Annapolis' Midshipmen chart a steady course for the football season


Now that the shelling aimed at the Navy football program has subsided since last week's 53-0 loss to Virginia, it's appropriate to take a peek at the compass to see which direction the ship is going.

Sad to say, the Mids are heading due north into Boston College tomorrow. Boston beat Big Ten Northwestern, 49-0, a lot easier than No. 3 Notre Dame was able to a week earlier.

So, the stage is set for another drubbing, a hard-fought %o TC reasonably competitive game or one of those gutsy comebacks that characterize the performance of so many great Mid efforts in the past.

As anyone who stuck it out to the bitter end last week can tell you the questions are these.

Can a team that appeared so disorganized put all the pieces back together in one week?

With No. 1 quarterback Jim Kubiak injured, will back-up senior quarterback Brian Elks and Steve Seone and sophomore Tony Saliday be given a competitive chance to drive this team with a new dimension of spirit and talent?

Will the defense show up this time?

Will talented split end Tom Pritchard and tight end Kevin Hickman begin repeating their extraordinary acts of last year in shaking loose for pass receptions?

Will we see a lot more of speedster Billy James coming out of the backfield, along with hard-charging Duke Ingraham and the shifty Jason Van Matre (who also can pass)?

Regarding last week's game, we must be fair about a few things. With all the hoopla, the parades, pep rallies and high expectations showered on these 18- and 19-year-olds, Navy as a whole was tighter than a drum lining up for the kickoff.

Its initial offensive moves were nothing less than spectacular -- only to be nullified by penalties. It seemed that every encouraging play saw an official's flag on the field.

All too soon the Mids fell apart and the game got out of hand. Still, this shouldn't happen at this level of competition regardless of how good the opposition is. A team must maintain control.

There is one more dimension working here that bears mentioning.

To be a Navy football player, every young man is presented with a challenge not only on the playing field but particularly off of it. He is at the academy to become a naval officer and not to be drafted by a professional team after a big signing bonus.

He keeps his barracks clean. He makes every early breakfast. He tackles a tough academic schedule with its accompanying late labs. He takes turn at guard duty and marches every day. He squeezes in two to three hours of football practice then hurries back for dinner and hours of studying, and finally lights out.

This is hardly the routine for players at all the university football factories.

It takes a special brand of enlightened and inspired young man to want this experience when he is holding 20 other college scholarships in his hand. And it takes a special kind of support from all the lovers of Navy football.

As for Coach Tom Coughlin's Boston College Eagles, the new power in the Big East, their offense is led by quarterback Glenn Foley whose passing in the final game in 1991 almost upset top-ranked Miami, before the Eagles fell, 19-14.

He passed for 21 touchdowns in 1991 covering 2,222 yards. The backfield duo of Darnell Campbell and Chuckie Dukes combined for 1,253 yards. The Eagles' defense is anchored by lineman John Stolberg, linebacker Tom McManus and defensive back Charlie Brennan.

The Mids return home on Sept. 26 against up-and-coming Rutgers.

Earl Schubert, a free-lance writer, is a Baltimore native who lives in Annapolis. A former football coach, he was a secondary-school administrator in Missouri and Montgomery County, and worked for 17 years as a senior official in the U.S. Department of Education. His "Navy Blue and Gold" column appears every Friday in the Anne Arundel County Sun.

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